Smith, Randy.  “Writer, Reader, Student:  Into the Maw of the Monster”


In the fall of 1991, I entered my second year as a master’s candidate in English at the University of South Carolina and enrolled in James Dickey’s “Seminar in Verse Composition: Part One” (ENGL 600).  At the time, fresh out of banking and new to the field of English, I was not sure that I knew what Dickey looked like or even that I had seen him on campus, but his reputation (and a few apocryphal stories) preceded my laying eyes on him.  So, with some mixture of fear, awe, excitement, and curiosity, I arrived early with other students at room 312 of the Humanities Classroom Building on the first day of class that August and waited for Dickey.  In my memory, we waited and waited and waited for Dickey to arrive—tension and anticipation building—but I am not sure that this really happened.  I am, however, sure about the next part.  One moment, students chatted and laughed casually; the doorway to the room was empty—the next, a large (and in my memory, larger-than-life) camouflaged man filled the door and hobbled into the room carrying two huge canvas suitcases.  At this point, student chatter ceased.


About Joyce Morrow Pair

Dr. Joyce Pair is best known and acclaimed professionally for founding the James Dickey Newsletter and for editing the print edition for twenty years. The Newsletter, published since its founding in 1984, is dedicated to the work and biography of James Dickey. After the retirement of the editor at the University of South Carolina who had been appointed by Dr. Pair in 2007, the editorship was passed to Casey Clabough, at Lynchburg College, who changed the format to a general emphasis and changed the name. Consequently, Pair resumed editing the Newsletter in a new, digitized format ( This new digital James Dickey Newsletter continues its concentration on Dickey and his work, resuming the on-going bibliography as well as including relevant Dickey information and new scholarly essays. Through Pair’s guidance and editorial position the Newsletter became the central force in Dickey scholarship, attracting established and aspiring Dickey scholars. New attention was given to addressing the philosophical and ecological themes in Dickey’s work. Pair has herself written and published scholarly articles and has delivered conference papers on the work of Dickey (as well as on other authors). With Pair’s mentorship, many young contributors to James Dickey Newsletter have become established Dickey scholars. Dr. Pair retired from teaching English Literature and Composition at DeKalb College in 1996. Since that time, she has edited many manuscripts/books and articles.
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